baseball lit reviews

Books / Game of Shadows

I was just watch­ing ESPN's Open­ing Day cov­er­age of the Braves-Dodgers game, and the con­ver­sa­tion between com­men­ta­tor Erik Kar­ros (wasn't he Rook­ie of the Year like 5 years ago?) and Rick Sut­cliffe turned to steroids. Kar­ros couldn't con­tain him­self. He blus­tered and ram­bled for a while, crit­i­ciz­ing those who demand­ed an inves­ti­ga­tion, and basi­cal­ly rehashed Mark McGwire's non-denial denial to a Sen­ate sub-com­mit­tee: Steroids were abused in the past; the league has adopt­ed a stricter pol­i­cy; let's all move on. The mes­sage was uno­rig­i­nal — a lot of cur­rent play­ers don't want to dwell on this unsa­vory devel­op­ment — but the air of defen­sive­ness mixed with dis­dain seemed odd­ly reminscent of anoth­er guilty, defi­ant per­son — Don­ald Rumsfeld.Anyway, over the past cou­ple of days, I tore through Game of Shad­ows, the recent­ly pub­lished steroids expose by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. After a month of PR build-up and pub­lished excerpts, there weren't many surprises:

  • Bonds availed him­self of steroids. One might say, a but­t­load of steroids.
  • So did Mar­i­on Jones.
  • They're both liars.
  • So are a lot of pro­fes­sion­al athletes.

Bonds is the big sto­ry in Game of Shad­ows. If you couldn't already tell by his car­toon­ish­ly swollen neck/head and his late-career pow­er explo­sion, Bonds hasn't been play­ing fair. He admit­ted to a grand jury that he allowed his train­er (a known juicer) to place droplets of an "unknown" chem­i­cal under his tongue, and to rub an "unknown" cream on his joints. Bonds thought that these were legal sup­ple­ments — the drops were "flaxseed oil" — yeah, he actu­al­ly said that — and he implied that he'd nev­er inject­ed any­thing. Uh-huh, yeah. I'm a fan of the flaxseed oil, and I can tes­ti­fy that it doesn't make your head become like 5x big­ger. Plus, Bonds has always been a con­trol freak. Is it even remote­ly pos­si­ble that he didn't both­er find­ing out what his train­er was stick­ing in his mouth?The book reveals the Bonds was on a steroid reg­i­men that includ­ed more than "flaxseed oil," mak­ing it seem even more like­ly that Bonds per­jured him­self in front of the grand jury. Sources close to him indi­cate that he was on all sorts of injectable crap, includ­ing Decadurabolin (in the butt) and human growth hor­mone (in the stom­ach). He want­ed us to believe that it was all free weights and sprints and vit­a­mins, but it makes a lit­tle more sense that there was some secret sauce in the mix.A per­son­al note: Bar­ry, dude, seri­ous­ly. Just freakin admit it. You're like a lit­tle kid sit­ting in a pile of cook­ie crumbs, cry­ing and claim­ing that you didn't eat any cook­ies. It's undig­ni­fied, real­ly. Say "I took steroids because I want­ed to win, because every­one else was, because it's what I had to do." Fans under­stand com­pet­i­tive­ness, and you're a com­pet­i­tive guy, and steroids weren't against the rules any­way. So just fess up, you big baby. At some point, you could even ask for our for­give­ness. I mean, it's pos­si­ble. You always claim that you're not giv­en the respect you deserve. Here's your chance to earn it.